PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When the Capitol doors were breached, a call went out to alert leaders to hide, crawl under their desks, and get gas masks. It was a terrifying afternoon not knowing what was going to happen next.
The final few tense seconds before protestors breached the United States Capitol building on Wednesday, there was all-out chaos throughout the Capitol complex as Capitol Police, guns drawn, attempted to protect lawmakers still inside the chambers.
“We were in the process of discussing the electors and debating the rule of law and debating the idea that we need to have safe and free elections,” Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey said, “and then all of this started to happen, which was, of course, a great surprise.”
“The Capitol Police came in and started locking us in,” Rep. Susan Wild said on CBS News.
Wild, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, was inside the gallery during the chaos. She described what happened next.
“The Sergeant of Arms came over the microphone and told people to look under their chairs for gas masks, which were under there,” Wild said. “Then suddenly, we were told to evacuate. All of a sudden, they wouldn’t let us evacuate anymore. They barricaded the doors. There were intruders again in the hallway and the next thing I knew, there was glass breaking and shots being fired, and we were told to get down.”
One woman who appears to have tried entering was shot and killed.
This historic and frightening ordeal drew sharp criticism from lawmakers across the Delaware Valley on both sides of the aisle.
“It’s not the America we know or the America we love and we don’t want to see that, and that does not represent most of the people who are involved in that organization,” Van Drew said. “But evidently, there were some people there that were violent and that’s something that is not and should not ever be accepted, period.”
“Violence and disruption is not an acceptable act,” Rep. Dwight Evans said. “I would encourage anybody they have a right to protest, but nobody has a right to violence.”
“I never in a million years thought I would see this on the hallowed grounds of our nation’s capital,” Rep. Brendan Boyle said. “Make no mistake about it, this crowd of thousands of people who want anarchy will not win. We will still carry through and do our duty and democracy will survive this.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Hours after the incredible security breach, Capitol Police were able to secure the building and lawmakers resumed the counting of Electoral College votes.
“This is our democracy. Forget Democrat or Republican. This is the difference between Democracy and anarchy,” Boyle said. “This is what is at stake.”
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